2016 Fantasy Free Agency Tracker

2016 Fantasy Free Agency Tracker

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last updated Apr 25, 2016

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Free agency begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, though teams can start negotiating with free agents at 12 p.m. ET today (Monday, March 7). Be sure to check this page throughout the week for a summary of all of the big news along with our take on how each signing will impact your fantasy team. 

Before we get into the news, here's a quick refresher on the NFL's (oftentimes convoluted) free agency rules.

- An unrestricted free agent (UFA) can sign with whomever he wants with no compensation going to his old team.

- A restricted free agent (RFA) has three years of service in the NFL and an expired contract. He's free to negotiate with other teams, but once he signs an offer sheet, his old team has seven days to match the deal and retain the player. If his old team declines to match, his new team may have to send a draft pick as compensation, depending on what type of RFA tender the old team offered the player.

- A team can apply a franchise tag on a player in order to guarantee that the team retains the player's rights for another season in the hopes that the two sides can work out a long-term deal. The price is steep -- it's a formula based on a certain percentage of the salary cap and the salaries of the top five players at the position.

Note: Of the so-called “skill position” players, Alshon Jeffery (Bears) and Kirk Cousins (Redskins) were tagged this year, so they are staying put. Both tags make a lot of sense since Jeffery needs to prove he can stay healthy and Cousins needs to prove that he isn’t a one-year wonder.

- Under the franchise tag, a player can be labeled an exclusive or non-exclusive franchise player. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. Like restricted free agents, a non-exclusive franchise player can sign an offer sheet from another team. If his old team declines to match, they'll receive two first round picks as compensation. 

- If a team doesn't apply a franchise tag, it can elect to apply a transition tag instead. The tender is cheaper because it uses the top 10 salaries at the position, but if another team negotiates a deal and his old team elects not to match, they won't get any draft picks as compensation. In previous years, teams could use both the franchise and transition tags, but under the new CBA, a team can use one or the other, but not both. The transition tag is rarely used in the NFL.

Be sure to read Brandon Niles’s Free Agency Preview and hit the Fantasy News and Offseason Player Movement pages to stay on top of all of the big moves.

Broncos to sign TE Garrett Graham (4/25)
Graham caught 49 passes for 545 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games playing for HC Gary Kubiak in 2013. That works out to 10.3 PPG (in PPR formats), which equates to low-end TE1 numbers. He'll compete with Virgil Green for targets. 

Redskins sign CB Josh Norman (4/22)
The Redskins owned the #13 fantasy defense last year and the addition of Norman should improve a pass defense that yielded the 8th-most passing yards in 2015.

Giants re-sign TE Larry Donnell (4/19)
Donnell will compete with second-year TE Will Tye, but we give the edge to Tye. Tye essentially took over as the Giants’ starter in Week 8, and was the #13 tight end in standard formats from that point on. From Week 9 to Week 17, he had the 10th-most targets at his position.

Broncos re-sign RB Ronnie Hillman (4/18)
Hillman should serve as C.J. Anderson's primary backup given the way that the Broncos leaned on Anderson down the stretch and through the playoffs (15.6 carries in his final five games).

Patriots re-signed RB LeGarrette Blount (4/12)
Blount will probably be the "2" in a 1-2 punch with Dion Lewis. In the six games in which they both played, Lewis averaged 11.0 touches (5.3 rec) for 84 yards and 0.66 TD, which extrapolates to high-end RB1 numbers both PPR and standard formats. Meanwhile, Blount averaged 16.3 touches for 80 yards (4.74 YPC) and 1.0 TD in the six games that Lewis also played. Blount slipped down the stretch, averaging 13.4 carries for 51 yards (3.61 YPC) and 0.20 TD in his final five games with Lewis sidelined. James White, Donald Brown and Brandon Bolden figure to compete, but this is shaping up to be a Lewis/Blount backfield.

Saints to re-sign RB Tim Hightower (4/8)
Filling in for the injured Mark Ingram, Hightower racked up 456 total yards and four touchdowns in the final four games. He'll serve as the handcuff for Ingram in 2016.

Lions sign RB Stevan Ridley (4/2)
Ridley gained 2,036 total rushing yards from 2012 to 2013 (averaging 4.35 YPC in that span). He tore his ACL in 2014 and wasn't fully recovered in 2015. He'll compete with Zach Zenner to potentially fill the power back role vacated by Joique Bell.

Bengals sign WR Brandon LaFell (3/30)
Last season, LaFell was never able to recapture the magic from the year before, when he finished as the #22 fantasy receiver in standard formats. The Bengals lost both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu this offseason, so LaFell will have the opportunity to start if the team doesn't use an early draft pick on a receiver.

Packers to sign TE Jared Cook (3/28)
Cook finished #28 in 2015 (PPR), but in the four prior seasons, he posted an average ranking of 16.3. He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine back in 2009 and while he's probably lost a step along the way, he can still threaten the seam better than Richard Rodgers. It's not inconceivable that he turns into a fantasy starter, but the position is deep this year and unless he vastly outplays Rodgers, he's more likely to form a committee with the third-year tight end. Keep in mind that Cook has never played with an elite QB like Aaron Rodgers.

Saints match Bears' offer sheet to TE Josh Hill (3/25)
This means that Hill is staying in New Orleans. He isn't likely to have much fantasy value playing behind Coby Fleener, but owners should have him on speed dial if Fleener can't stay healthy.

Patriots to sign WR Nate Washington (3/24)
Washington is turning 33 in August. He averaged 3.4 catches for 47 yards in 14 games last season with the Texans. It's not inconceivable that he wins the starting job on the outside, but he'll have to beat out Chris Hogan, whom the team prioritized in free agency.

Browns sign QB Robert Griffin III (3/24)
RG3 will have the opportunity for a fresh start after an up-and-then-down stint in Washington. We're not immediately writing off the Browns potentially having a few quality fantasy players in 2016 with Griffin, Duke Johnson, Gary Barnidge and maybe Josh Gordon in the fold. Griffin's short-term upside depends largely on the presence of Gordon, who is a game-changer in the passing game. He could work his way into the streaming conversation if all goes well.

Eagles sign WR Rueben Randle (3/23)
Randle will likely compete with Josh Huff for WR3 duties, but he could push the unimpressive Nelson Agholor for snaps as the team's WR2. Randle has largely been a fantasy disappointment, but he did finish as the #28 WR (standard) in 2015 and #37 the year before.

Bears sign RFA TE Josh Hill to an offer sheet (3/22)
Hill was a 4for4 sleeper last summer until it became clear that the Saints were intent on starting Benjamin Watson at tight end. If Hill signs with the Bears, then he'll likely back up Zachary Miller who played very well down the stretch last season.

Cowboys sign RB Alfred Morris (3/22)
On the outs in Washington, Morris's career may be on the upswing as he lands with a team who not only wants him, but also has one of the best offensive lines in football. His arrival puts a big dent in Darren McFadden's upside as the duo will probably form a timeshare as long as both players stay productive. Morris may hold more value in standard formats while McFadden will compete with Lance Dunbar to serve as the team's primary back on passing downs. Update: The team still considers McFadden the RB1 in Dallas.

Lions sign WR Jeremy Kerley (3/21)
Kerley fell out of favor with the new regime in New York and never really recovered. He's 27 years old and has an 800-yard season on his resume. He'll provide depth in Detroit behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.

Packers re-sign RB James Starks (3/18)
Last year, Starks rushed for 601 yards and added another 392 yards receiving, finishing as the #21 running back in PPR formats. Eddie Lacy has been training with the P90X creator and is expected to report to camp in better shape as he heads into a contract season, but Starks gives the team a fallback option if Lacy can't regain his early-career form in 2016.

Cardinals re-sign RB Chris Johnson (3/17)
Johnson was the #15 RB (standard) through the first 11 weeks prior to going down with an injury in Week 12. The dynamic has changed with David Johnson likely to assume RB1 duties. Johnson will provide depth and eat into Andre Ellington's potential upside.

Seahawks re-sign RB Christine Michael (3/17)
Michael averaged 4.9 YPC after returning to Seattle last season. He figures to serve as Thomas Rawls' primary backup.

Patriots trade for TE Martellus Bennett (3/16)
The Bears found a taker in the Patriots, who have been searching for an athletic tight end to fill the Aaron Hernandez role in the offense. Bennett will play second fiddle to Rob Gronkowski, and will likely trail Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis in targets. Bennett's departure opens the door for starter's snaps for Zachary Miller in Chicago. Miller could post TE1 numbers after coming on strong down the stretch last season.

Patriots to sign RB Donald Brown (3/16)
Brown is a versatile back who finished 28th in PPR formats back in 2013 when he took over for Trent Richardson in Indianapolis. Since then, he has averaged 3.14 YPC over two seasons for the Chargers. The San Diego running game was a dumpster fire last year, and the Patriots obviously believe that Brown still has gas left in the tank. He could conceivably form a one-two punch with Dion Lewis.

Eagles sign WR Chris Givens (3/16)
Givens caught 19 passes for 346 yards and one touchdown in 12 games with the Ravens. He should provide depth as a situational deep threat behind Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff.

Ravens sign WR Mike Wallace (3/15)
Wallace is a good fit for Joe Flacco's big arm. The Ravens didn't have a deep threat last season with Torrey Smith gone and Breshad Perriman on the shelf. Wallace is past his prime but he's bound to have a few big games given his ability to go deep. Consider him a WR5 type if Perriman is healthy.

Broncos match offer sheet, re-sign RB C.J. Anderson (3/15)
Anderson wasn’t fully healthy heading into the season and struggled at the onset, averaging just 2.69 YPC on 11.4 rushing attempts through the first six weeks of the season. He turned it around in a big way after the Week 7 bye, however, racking up an average of 64.5 yards on 11.6 carries (5.57 YPC) and 0.58 TD over his final 12 games, including the playoffs. Those are mid-level RB1 numbers in standard formats and low-end RB1 numbers in PPR. Moreover, the Broncos committed to Anderson down the stretch, feeding him 15.6 carries over the final five games. In that span, he averaged 13.7 fantasy points in standard (and 15.9 FP in PPR). Those averages would have been good enough to finish #3 in both formats. Even though he finished strong, playoff numbers don’t count for fantasy, so the fact remains that Anderson burned his owners in 2015. As a result, his ADP is likely to remain depressed heading into 2016 fantasy drafts. But Ronnie Hillman is unlikely to return after a poor finish (while Anderson is a restricted free agent), so the Denver backfield is one to monitor in the offseason. As the clear RB1, he’s going to be a fantastic value in the 4th round and a solid value in the 3rd.

Bears re-sign TE Zachary Miller (3/14)
Miller was the #5 TE over the final nine weeks of the season, and that includes Week 17, which he missed due to injury. He averaged 3.9 catches for 51 yards and 0.63 TD (on 5.1 targets per game) in that span. In the four games that Martellus Bennett missed, Miller averaged 5.0-55-0.50 on 6.8 targets per game. Those are solid TE1 numbers in both standard and PPR formats. Miller is 31 years old and has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career, but he'll be a compelling pick in the later rounds if the Bears part ways with Bennett.

Patriots to sign WR Chris Hogan to an offer sheet, Bills 'aren't expected to match' (3/11)
I would have ponied up the extra $1 M per year for Rishard Matthews, but far be it from me to question the genius of Bill Belichick. Hogan has more size (6'1") than it seems, but his skill set isn't much different from that of Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola. He'll compete with Amendola for targets behind Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski. It's conceivable that he could take over Brandon LaFell's role in the offense.

Seahawks re-sign WR Jermaine Kearse (3/10)
Kearse was inconsistent last season but was pretty solid down the stretch after Jimmy Graham went down with an injury. He was the #26 WR from Week 12 to Week 17, but will be fourth in line for targets after Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and a hopefully healthy Graham.

Falcons sign WR Mohamed Sanu (3/10)
Sanu averaged 5.5 catches for 96 yards and 0.50 TD in the four games that A.J. Green missed in 2014, but keep in mind that Marvin Jones also missed all of that season with a foot injury. Regardless, Sanu looks like a pretty good fit opposite Julio Jones and will be getting a promotion from the WR3 in Cincinnati to the WR2 in Atlanta.

Jets to sign RB Khiry Robinson (3/10)
The Jets have been busy at running back, signing Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and now Robinson, who is more of a between-the-tackles banger than either Forte or Powell. He should get a few touches each week but isn't likely to be a fantasy factor without injuries higher on the depth chart. It's another worrisome signing for Forte.

Jets to re-sign RB Bilal Powell (3/10)
Powell held more value when he was playing alongside Chris Ivory, since the two players have complementary skill sets. That's not the case with new Jet Matt Forte, who is basically a rich man's Powell. Both Forte and Powell are capable runners but make their mark in the receiving game. Will the Jets take their RB1 off the field to give Powell snaps? Last year, the answer was a resounding yes, but with Forte on board, we're not so sure about the size of Powell's role in 2016. The signing is a concern for Forte as well, since Powell’s presence threatens his receiving role.

Titans sign WR Rishard Matthews (3/9)
Through 11 weeks (and prior to his injury), Matthews was the #22 receiver in fantasy and was on pace for a 67-1059-6.4 breakout season. Tennessee is not the ideal landing spot, though he'll enjoy solid QB play from Marcus Mariota and compete with Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham for targets in the team's passing game. He'll have to win a starting job to be fantasy relevant and even then it will be iffy given the lackluster performance of this offense.

Rams re-sign WR Brian Quick (3/9)
It's a curious move by Quick since it seems like he fell out of favor in 2015 as he came back from a shoulder injury. There isn’t much fantasy value here at the moment.

Saints sign TE Coby Fleener to a five-year deal (3/9)
This is a great landing spot for Fleener after the Colts decided to instead re-sign Dwayne Allen. In the 22 games that Fleener has played over the last three seasons with Allen sidelined, he has averaged 4.1 catches for 54 yards and 0.45 TD. Those averages would have been good enough to finish 7th in standard scoring and 6th in PPR in 2015. When only looking at seven such games in the last two seasons, Fleener has averaged 5.4 catches for 82 yards and 0.86 TD. It doesn't hurt that he hasn't missed a game in the last three years, either. He and Brees should develop a quick rapport.

Texans nab RB Lamar Miller (3/9)
This is a good signing for the Texans as Miller is a talented all-around back who has finished in the top 10 in back-to-back seasons despite being underutilized in Miami. The Texans should give him plenty of work, but keep an eye on the offensive line. If it comes together, Miller should see enough work to finish in the top 10 for a third straight season. In Miami, it looks like Jay Ajayi is poised to start for the Dolphins.

Texans to sign QB Brock Osweiler (3/9)
Osweiler averaged 16.6 FP in the six games that he started and finished. That equates to middle of the road QB2 numbers, and his receiving corps won't be quite as good as it was in Denver. DeAndre Hopkins is a nice target, but there is no Emmanuel Sanders on the Texans' roster at the moment. Osweiler will be in the streaming conversation if things go well.

Jets to sign RB Matt Forte (3/9)
Forte finished as the #9 RB in standard (#7 in PPR) despite missing three games. He's on the wrong side of 30, and his YPC is down over the last couple of years, but he's still a very capable runner and is fantastic in the passing game. Update: The Jets re-signed Bilal Powell and signed Khiry Robinson, so this is suddenly a crowded backfield, which doesn't bode particularly well for Forte.

RB Doug Martin re-signs with the Buccaneers (3/9)
In 2015, Martin was the #5 RB in standard formats (#6 in PPR), so his decision to re-sign with the Bucs will keep his value high. He will enter the season as a fantasy RB1 and will likely be drafted in the first two rounds once his ADP catches up with the news of his signing. His return to Tampa is obviously not-so-good for Charles Sims, but Sims will remain a good value in the middle rounds, especially in PPR formats.

Steelers expected to sign TE Ladarius Green (3/9)
There were better potential landing spots, but this is still great news for his fantasy stock. With Martavis Bryant suspended for the year, Green will compete to be the second option in the passing game behind Antonio Brown. In 13 career games where he's seen at least five targets, he has averaged 3.5 catches for 52 yards and 0.38 TD, which are solid TE1 numbers in both standard and PPR formats. He's not guaranteed at least five targets per game, but the now-retired Heath Miller saw at least five passes come his way in 17 of his last 32 regular season games and his skills were diminishing. Green is an ascending player, has the speed to threaten the seam and will see single coverage with Brown drawing most of the attention of the defense. I fully expect him to finish in the top 10 in 2016.

Chargers re-sign TE Antonio Gates (3/9)
Gates averaged 5.1 catches for 57 yards and 0.45 TD in 11 games, so he was scoring at solid TE1 pace when healthy. He appeared on the injury report for five weeks with knee and hip issues and ended up missing five games -- four due to suspension -- so he finished as the #11 TE in standard formats and #12 in PPR. If the Chargers don't re-sign Ladarius Green or find other significant help at tight end, then Gates will once again be a solid value in the later rounds. Potential owners should be sure to draft a backup or target a surprise TE early in the waiver wire process since it’s likely that Gates will miss some time due to injury as his body continues to break down.

Lions to sign WR Marvin Jones (3/9)
Jones has averaged 3.6 receptions for 48 yards and 0.44 TD in his last 32 games. The 6'2" Jones been especially good at catching touchdowns (14 in his last 32 games), so he'll try to pick up the slack in Detroit after Calvin Johnson's retirement. Used inconsistently in Cincinnati, he should see plenty of work with the Lions, though we expect he'll play second-fiddle to Golden Tate in terms of total targets. Overall, this is a good landing spot for Jones. Consider him a fantasy WR4 with some upside heading into 2016.

Chargers to sign WR Travis Benjamin (3/9)
With Malcom Floyd's retirement, the Chargers are losing a field stretcher and they found a good replacement in Benjamin, who managed to produce 68 catches for 966 yards and five touchdowns with a three-headed quarterback throwing to him in Cleveland. He averaged 7.8 targets per game, however, while Floyd averaged just 5.2 T/G after the arrival of Keenan Allen in 2013. Stevie Johnson is also under contract and the team figures to re-sign Antonio Gates and/or Ladarius Green, so Benjamin's targets are likely to have a lower ceiling that they did in Cleveland. On the plus side, his quarterback situation will be much better, so he'll certainly be fantasy relevant heading into 2016 fantasy drafts.

Jaguars agree to terms with RB Chris Ivory (3/8)
Ivory reportedly got approximately $6 million a year which is quite surprising considering the team's other needs, the presence of T.J. Yeldon and the fact that Ivory is mainly a two-down player. The signing is obviously bad news for Yeldon's stock, which is dependent on expected volume. Ivory is a pretty good runner and it's conceivable that the duo will form a timeshare in 2016.

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Ravens have agreed to terms with TE Benjamin Watson (3/8)
This signing is a surprise considering the Ravens already have Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams on the roster, so it could be an indication that they aren't confident that Gillmore will be ready for the season after shoulder/back surgery. Watson won't have great fantasy value considering his competition in Baltimore, but could emerge if he gets the starting nod. As for the Saints, will Josh Hill finally get a chance to start? He was one of our favorite sleepers last summer until it became clear that the team was going to start Watson ahead of him. We'll keep an eye on the Saints' TE situation, but if they don't add a quality tight end, Hill will be moving up the rankings.

Vikings will release WR Mike Wallace (3/8)
Wallace had a very disappointing first season in Minnesota. He was outplayed by Stefon Diggs, who enters the offseason as the team's WR1. The Vikings are likely to address the position in the offseason. As for Wallace, the free agent WR market is weak, so it's likely that some team will overpay him based on his past success.

Lions announce that Calvin Johnson has retired (3/8)
With Johnson’s retirement, Golden Tate steps into the WR1 role assuming the Lions don’t target a receiver in the 1st round of the draft (or acquire a bona fide WR1 via trade). Over the last two seasons, in 11 games in which Johnson was questionable, doubtful or out, Tate averaged 6.6 receptions for 77 yards and 0.73 TD. That’s about what Allen Robinson scored as the #6 WR in PPR formats in 2015. It’s also solid WR1 production in standard formats. Tate averaged 5.5 catches for 62 yards and 0.10 TD (high-end WR3 numbers in PPR) in the other 21 games. The defense will be more focused on Tate, so we’re expecting WR2 numbers in 2016. Eric Ebron also stands to benefit greatly from Johnson's departure.

Eagles to trade RB DeMarco Murray to the Titans (3/7) 
This would seem to solve the Titans’ problem at running back and kills any positive offseason buzz for David Cobb. The Titans have struggled to run the ball in recent years, but Murray will be an upgrade at the position. He'll likely be drafted as a middle-of-the-road RB2 in August. In Philadelphia, it's a boon to Ryan Mathews' value, provided he stays put. 

Report: Colts re-sign TE Dwayne Allen to a four-year deal (3/7)
This is a surprise since the Colts were rumored to be set on re-signing Coby Fleener, not Allen. If Fleener moves on, Allen will be a sleeper provided he's the primary receiving tight end in Indianapolis. He has only averaged 3.4 targets per game in 43 career games, but if Fleener is out of the way, that number may double.

Broncos elect to extend an original round tender to RB C.J. Anderson (3/7)
This means that the Broncos won't receive any compensation if they don't choose to match an offer that Anderson gets on the open market. It's somewhat surprising, but the team is salary cap strapped at the moment. Anderson wasn’t fully healthy heading into the season and struggled at the onset, averaging just 2.69 YPC on 11.4 rushing attempts through the first six weeks of the season. He turned it around in a big way after the Week 7 bye, however, racking up an average of 64.5 yards on 11.6 carries (5.57 YPC) and 0.58 TD over his final 12 games, including the playoffs. Those are mid-level RB1 numbers in standard formats and low-end RB1 numbers in PPR. Moreover, the Broncos committed to Anderson down the stretch, feeding him 15.6 carries over the final five games. In that span, he averaged 13.7 fantasy points in standard (and 15.9 FP in PPR). Those averages would have been good enough to finish #3 in both formats. Even though he finished strong, playoff numbers don’t count for fantasy, so the fact remains that Anderson burned his owners in 2015. As a result, his ADP is likely to remain depressed heading into 2016 fantasy drafts. But Ronnie Hillman is unlikely to return after a poor finish (while Anderson is a restricted free agent), so the Denver backfield is one to monitor in the offseason. If Anderson returns as the clear RB1, he’s going to be a fantastic value in the 4th round and a solid value in the 3rd.

Redskins release Robert Griffin III (3/7)
Given the state of the quarterback position around the league, Griffin is sure to draw some interest in free agency. A change of scenery should do him good, though he's unlikely to produce like he did in his rookie season.


Filed Under: Preseason, 2016

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